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How Early Intervention Can Prevent Substance Abuse

America’s opioid crisis places a severe burden on public health. However, early intervention can prevent abuse and addiction before they happen. Health professionals have many opportunities to identify abuse and address it before it worsens. Learn how to pinpoint potential opioid use disorders and save lives.

The Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Our country has an opioid crisis that affects everyone’s well-being. Between 1999 and 2016, the public dangers posed by opioid addiction skyrocketed. In 2016, fives times as many opioid-related overdose deaths occurred as in 1999. Over the course of nearly two decades, more than 630,000 people died from drug overdose. Now, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. We haven’t lost all hope, however. Health professionals like you can save patient lives with early detection.

Preventing Substance Abuse by Recognizing the Signs

Opioids change the brain chemistry of someone who uses them. They create imbalances in the pleasure-reward system that can result in a reliance on opioids to feel positive feelings. The longer that someone takes opioids, the more likely they are to build dependency. Withdrawal symptoms become more severe when a patient has to stop taking opioids after an extended time.

Many patients can handle the effects of opioids without developing an addiction. However, the nature of this drug makes it easy for dependence to escalate into abuse. Health professionals need to identify the risk of abuse happening before it turns into a dangerous condition.

Opioid Abuse Risk Factors

Certain patients have a higher chance of developing opioid abuse and addiction than others. These opioid abuse risk factors include:

  • Past or current personal substance abuse
  • Past or current family substance abuse
  • Untreated mental illness
  • Younger age (between 16 and 45 years of age)
  • History of sexual abuse

Not all patients with these traits will abuse opioids or become addicted. However, they should have extra care and attention to ensure they have a positive treatment experience.

Anyone with a high risk of opioid use disorder benefits from early intervention. However, specific populations have a critical need for it, including:

  • Patients who drive under the influence
  • Pregnant patients
  • Adolescents who could develop lifetime addictions

Using the Opioid Risk Tool for Abuse Prevention

The AccuCare EHR’s Opioid Risk Tool (ORT) uses a research-supported assessment to identify the risk of abuse in your patients. After you answer a few questions, the tool calculates a score indicating their likelihood of aberrant behaviors, which are actions that suggest abuse and addiction. AccuCare’s ORT can help you monitor at-risk patients and potentially save lives.

About the AccuCare EHR System

We developed AccuCare to assist behavioral health professionals in managing their practices. This online application lets you:

  • Organize patient records
  • Schedule appointments
  • Conduct assessments
  • Manage treatment plans
  • Write progress notes
  • Prescribe medications
  • Bill co-pays and insurance
  • And more

Our team adds regular free updates such as the ORT to help you serve your patients more effectively. To learn more about the AccuCare system, contact us today. Request a free software demo to test out AccuCare’s features yourself.

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